Chapter 192 - The Swamp (1)
The thunderbird took Crockta’s party on her back in return for their help. She flew a considerable distance, saving them a lot of time. However, she landed once she reached a certain area.
“Can’t you fly a bit more dot?”
However, the thunderbird shook her head. The thunderbird raised her beak and pointed to the front, letting out a loud cry.
"What is she saying dot?”
"There seems to be something dangerous,”said Zankus. Because he was a hunter, he had the ability to decipher the meaning of animals to a certain extent. "You can’t help us here, so please go back.”
They looked at the great forest in front of them. It was a dark place. There were many shaded areas in the great forest that blocked the sun, but the area in front of them seemed more than that. The air was damp and sticky.
"Once we pass through here, we will be in front of Orcrox,” Zankus said to Crockta, Tiyo and Anor. "Going around will take a while. What do you want to do?”
The answer had already been set.
"Of course, go straight through.”
“Don’t go back dot!”
Anor tried to expression his opinion about going around. However, the bone sparrow riding on Anor’s head replied instead.
Anor gazed at the bone sparrow with amazement. The bone sparrow expressed its enthusiasm through the flapping of its wings, as if it were already assimilated with Crockta and Tiyo.
"This guy is better than Anor dot! Let’s go, Sparrow!”
The thunderbird lightly waved her wings at them. It was time to say goodbye. The thunderbird showed intimacy by rubbing her beak against every member of Crockta’s group. They stroked the thunderbird’s beak and feathers, pledging to meet her again.
“Thunderbird. Live happily with your children dot.”
The thunderbird nodded. Then she slowly started to fly upwards. The flapping of the thunderbird’s wings caused gusts of wind to appear. However, it wasn’t a rough blast like when she fought. It was a cool, gentle wind that pushed at their backs. The thunderbird spread her beautiful dark blue wings. She cried loudly before returning to her nest.
Crockta’s group waved at the thunderbird.
"Then it is time to enter dot.”
They turned at Tiyo’s words. A gloomy forest appeared. The ground was wet, like it was a swamp.
Zankus lowered his posture and loaded an arrow. Crockta’s group looked into the dark forest at his sudden action. Was there something there? Zankus fired the arrow. The arrow penetrated through the air and struck something in the darkness of the forest.
A terrible scream was heard. It was a snake. A giant snake hiding in the bushes was bleeding from Zankus’ arrow. It had completely camouflaged with the surrounding area, but it became visible when it twisted its body after being hit by Zankus’ arrow.
"There was something like this, right at the entrance.”
The snake wriggled and revealed itself. It was huge. The monster was a size that seemed like it could easily kill them. However, Crockta’s group wasn’t easy. Tiyo nodded and pulled out General.
"Good dot. I can make a snake dish. Snake meat is good for the body dot!”
Anor was confused. "Snakes are good for the body?”
"Indeed dot! Great dot!”
“How is it good?”
"That...good...I have no way to explain it dot...”
Thus, they entered the swamp of the great forest.
The paladin of the war god, Aklan prayed as he looked at the volunteers.
"Everything is going according to the will of the god of war.”
Once the divine message was spread, ordinary people gathered to obey the gods’ will. Many also joined the army in hopes of honor and rewards. Nobles who wanted to consolidate their positions also participated.
Now it was time to leave. Aklan gestured and the flag went up. It was the flag of all the gods in the empire. The expedition members prayed to the gods they believed in.
The horn blew again. The troops moved forward. The number was much larger than the empire’s fixed army. In the future, more people would join as the procession progressed. From the empire in the south to Orcrox in the north-west, the expedition would snowball in size as more people joined.
Adandator spoke to Aklan, "We need supplies for all these people.”
“Yes. I have requested cooperation from the Blacksmith Company.”
The expedition had already requested the support of the top merchant company on the continent, the Blacksmith Company.
"We have plenty of money, so we can get what they need through their trading network.”
"First of all, let’s go to Maillard and negotiate further.”
They were heading towards Maillard. They would pass countless cities on the way to Orcrox. The expedition would become more solid after passing through those cities.
Aklan looked around. An endless crowd followed him.
“The Free Cities Alliance has refused to participate. Stupid fellows. The rejection of all the temples on the continent will catch their ankles in the future.”
Maillard was unable to hide their confusion.
Suddenly, a large expedition army had reached out to them, urging them to join.
It was a well-known fact that a divine message had been sent down. However, Maillard didn’t plan to provide support on a city scale. They separated the work of the temple from the work of the city. The citizens themselves followed different gods and faith was left as a personal freedom. Now a large expedition from the empire was asking for their help.
"All gods are watching, including the world tree of the elves,” Aklan declared.
All of Maillard’s senators thought about it. They invited Aklan to the congress in order to listen to his story and make a decision.
"Paladin Aklan.” Maillard’s mayor touched his chin and asked, “Your target is Crockta and the orcs, right?”
“Yes, they are using forbidden power. If we leave it alone, the entire continent will be in grave danger.”
Another senator sitting around the platform asked Aklan.
"What is the evidence that Crockta and the orcs are using a forbidden power?”
“It is a divine message. Every god has told me to get rid of them, and as I continued to pray to the god of war, I truly believe that they are very dangerous.”
“The god of war is originally a god who promotes war...hasn’t this happened before? The humans and elves fought.”
The god of war was someone who favored war and fighting, and he grew through his believers. It was said that he directly reaped dead souls from the battlefield. There had been trouble between humans and elves in the past. It wasn’t a big war, but many people fought and died. It became known that the god of war was behind it, and the temple of the war god was criticized for a while.
Everyone thought that Aklan would be angry. But Aklan was calm.
"If you think so, please consider the other gods. It isn’t just the war god. All of the gods are saying this. Isn't that right? Maillard has a temple so I’m sure that you know already. That alone is evidence.”
The senator touched his chin.
Aklan looked around. There were around 30 people in the not very large space looking at him. Most of them were elves and humans. They represented citizens from all walks of life in Maillard. It was entirely different from the empire ruled by the emperor and nobles. There might be others who considered it as good, but Aklan considered it inefficient since the decision-making was split. This simple matter was being delayed because of it.
Aklan threw out one more thing, "Of course, it isn’t just a matter of faith. Crockta and the orcs are public enemies, so anything obtained from defeating them will be fairly divided. Don't worry about that.”
"The price won’t be small.”
Suddenly, Aklan felt a strange atmosphere. He thought it was just a formal and tiring process. However, based on their expressions, it seemed like they wanted to refuse it. What was the reason for their refusal?
"Paladin Aklan. I’ve heard your words well.” The mayor spoke to clean up the situation. “Do you know about Maillard?”
“I don’t know.”
"I see...” The mayor smiled and said. “Then do you know the group called the Rehabilitation Brothers?”
It was the first time he heard such a silly name.
"This is the first time.”
"Then I will explain. The Rehabilitation Brothers are a volunteer group in Maillard. They suddenly appeared one day, helping the poor and sick without any costs. If there are any criminals, they will hand them directly over to the guards. They dedicated themselves to Maillard.”
Aklan nodded, “They are excellent people.”
“I agree. As mayor, I am very grateful to them. Then..." The mayor shrugged. "This volunteer group originated from Crockta.”
"The three leaders of the Rehabilitation Brothers are ex-convicts who had been healed by Crockta. In the old days, they were very bad people who hurt security. However, they were born again as new men after meeting Crockta. In addition, there are several orc members in the Rehabilitation Brothers, all of whom are doing good work out to respect for Crockta.”
Aklan’s eyes widened. It was a fact he hadn’t known at all. Crockta conquered the north and then came down to fight the empire. He was a fiercely strong warrior. No further information was available.
“Now the Rehabilitation Brothers are a symbol of Maillard. Thanks to them, inspired citizens have started to look after their neighbors and the city is becoming a better place to live.”
The silent senators nodded and began to open their lives.
"The children in the slums of Maillard are now going to school.”
“The beggars in the city are gone.”
"The fountain square is full and the water is overflowing. When people throw a coin into the fountain, the temple collects it and helps those who are in need.”
"The crime rate has plummeted sharply.”
“There was a Rehabilitation Brothers member hit by a carriage while saving a child. I’m glad that he was a cursed person.”
Aklan realized. These people weren’t hostile to Crockta and the orcs. No, they liked them.
The mayor continued speaking, "I explained this so that you would know. We in Maillard make all important decisions through the votes of the senators. Your request will be accepted if a majority of the votes agree. Then I will start.”
The mayor rose from his seat.
"Distinguished members of Maillard’s congress. The expedition is asking for Maillard’s participation and support. For more information, please read the details on the documents given to you. I believe you would’ve read all of it. All those in favor, please raise your hands.”
He called for people to raise their hands. The mayor looked around at the senators. Three people had raised their hands. They had devout expression on their faces.However, the remaining members were looking at Aklan with firm expressions.
“Three people. Any more? Three people. Three people are in favor.”
The mayor turned and looked at Aklan. Then he spoke again, "If you are opposed to this motion, please raise your hands.”
There was no need to count. Everyone save for three people raised their hands. Aklan dropped his head, unable to withstand their gazes.
The mayor immediately spoke to Aklan without counting the number of votes, "The proposal has been rejected. Maillard is a city that guarantees civil freedom, so I won’t stop citizens for volunteering for the expedition if that is what they want. You may recruit volunteers from Maillard, but Maillard won’t support the expedition at a city level.”
The senators clapped. As he listened to the applause that sounded close to booing, Aklan barely managed to open his mouth in reply, “I understand, thank you for your consideration."
Thus, he had to turn around. He tried to recruit volunteers from the square, but none of the Maillard citizens joined the expedition. Rather, he only received the glares of the citizens. The heavy steps of the expedition troops headed for the next city, after not gaining anything in Maillard.
Aklan examined a map. Beyond the small villages and towns, there was a place equal to Maillard.
"Let's go here. The scale is quite big. We will try again there. Most of the residents are humans. There will definitely be results there.”
“What place is it?”
"A place called Chesswood.”
Praise the Orc: Glossary Link.
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